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Mountain News: Skier numbers point to minorities

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Michael Morris grew up in a house where both English and French were spoken, and based on that experience wants to see a French immersion school. Even Yellowknife, population 18,000, has such a school, he says.

“Our children deserve to have the point to learn our country’s second language on a level that will prepare them to use it confidently in social and career situations,” says Krista Cadieux.

 

Bark beetle epidemic peaks

KETCHUM, Idaho – The bark beetle epidemic that has waxed since the turn of the century in the Sawtooth Mountains seems to be waning.

The reason is not cold weather, but rather the fact that the beetles have killed most of the lodgepole pine. “Now they’re starting to go down to as small as a six-inch trees, and that’s a sign that most of the host material has been killed off,” say Jim Rineholt, a forester at the Sawtooth National Recreational Area.

Among the killed trees are white bark pine. Rineholt said many of the white bark pine are more than 800 years old. “It’s an important species for holding back snowpack,” he told the Idaho Mountain Express. The species is found at more than 7,000 feet, which in Idaho is a high elevation.

After marching through the Sawtooths and then the White Cloud Mountains, the beetles are now working southward into the Wood River Valley, where Sun Valley and Ketchum are located. More diverse forests are expected to cause the beetles to move more slowly.

 

Board buying geothermal electricity

TRUCKEE, Calif. – Last winter the utility board serving Truckee and nearby areas considered signing a 50-year contract to get electricity from a new coal-fired power plant being planned in Utah. Residents responded loudly that they didn’t want to hitch their wagon to coal, and so they didn’t.

But Truckee is growing, and so the utility board has been looking for additional sources. It appears to have part of the answer in geothermal power from a plant in northern Nevada called Rye Patch. Truckee will get about three megawatts.

What it will cost Truckee isn’t clear. The Sierra Sun suggests the deal will cause a rate hike of 7.3 per cent. Just how sustained the geothermal power will be is also unclear.

Steve Hollabaugh, an official with the utility district, told the Sierra Sun that wind and solar power are both options, but the technologies do not deliver electricity as reliably as other energy sources. “I want as much solar as I can get up there, but my job is to keep the lights on,” he said.